Marind-Kaliki Traditions: Burning First, Hunting Later

goodmorningpapua.com – Hunting begins by burning swamps or peat forests where animals usually congregate. The burned land is then left for several days, until the plants and grass on it grow new shoots.

The young shoots will attract animals such as deer, pigs, and stocks (kangaroos in the language of the Marind tribe) to eat. It was time to hunt. People go to hunting locations while bringing food and drink, from tubers, sago, to drinking water, for several days.

They hunt in groups, usually of 7-8 people, to make it easier to catch and surround the prey. Of course, they brought complete ‘fighting’ equipment, such as bows with arrows and machetes. The weapons were sharpened first. The machete will later be used to slash the animal if the distance is close. Bows and arrows were used to hunt from away. It is usually for deer.

Melkius said the hunting location was very far from the village. The distance can be tens of kilometers. Usually, it takes half a day on foot to reach the location. Arriving at the location, residents did not immediately look for animals. They first built a bivouac (temporary shelter) to relax. The walls are made of bus bark, a type of eucalyptus that grows in the forest. The roof is made of palm tree leaves. Only the next day hunting was carried out, from morning, noon, until night. To hunt at night, they use flashlights. Hunting takes days, usually up to four days, depending on the number of game animals obtained.

The hunted animals are slaughtered on the spot. Only the meat is brought back to the village. Once hunting they can usually bring home two deer meat, one pig, and up to three kangaroos. Residents usually hunt five to six times a season.

Some of the prey is sold to the Kurik District or to middlemen who come to the village. Deer meat is sold for IDR 50,000/kg if sold in the district, and only IDR 30,000/kg if sold to middlemen in the village. Meanwhile, pork and kangaroo are sold for IDR 20,000/kg. The money from selling meat is used to buy daily necessities, from rice, coffee-sugar, and others.

Although the selling price of meat in Kurik District is higher, the citizens of Kaliki cannot always sell it there. The reason is the poor road conditions. If calculated, currently the road to the district probably had more potholes than the flat part. In the rainy season like now, the holes become puddles of water. Big and deep, because the road to the district is damaged, the journey takes one hour in the dry season and up to two hours in the rainy season. Kaliki’s natural potential, starting from tubers, vegetables, bananas, and—that’s it—the game is difficult to market.

According to the Head of the Socio-Economic Agency of the Santo Antonius Foundation (Yasanto) Merauke, Djago Bukit, the peatlands in Kaliki Village are in the form of primary forest in the form of dry land with dense wood, primary swamp with permanently wet peat, and dry peat secondary swamp. Inhabited by 126 families (KK) with 500 inhabitants, the residents of Kaliki almost entirely depend on peatlands for their livelihood. It was in the hoom that they hunted, caught fish, gathered, and—later developed—cultivated crops.

According to the religious leader of Kaliki Village, Reverend Sevnat Oram Gat Mahuze, the way of hunting firstly by burning forests or peat swamps is a tradition handed down by the Marind tribe who live in Kaliki and the surrounding villages. With this technique, citizens get game animals to be consumed or sold during the dry season. However, over time, this tradition has undergone a number of changes. Kornelis Kaize, a traditional leader of Kaliki Village, said that in the past only adult Kaliki people burned the forest.

If now the fire is from a gas lighter, in the past the fire was made by yourself. According to Kornelis, in the past, land that was burned was only in certain places or points. As for now, after all, there are a number of places that until now were strictly forbidden to burn. The reason: It could be because the place is a crossing between villages, or it could be because the location is a hamlet belonging to the Gebze, Ndiken, Balagaize, Basik-Basik, or Mahuze clans.

But the most valuable thing in each village is the sago tree. According to Kornelis, many sago trees grow in the hamlet, which are the staple food of the residents. That’s why the hamlet is a source of community life that must be preserved. About the importance of this sago hamlet, the residents understand very well. According to Djago Bukit, before burning land, residents will usually secure the area overgrown with sago by cleaning the area around it.

But sometimes the sago tree still gets caught in the fire. The impact is not the same between sago palms growing in dry peat forest and wet peat, due to differences in the water content in the peat. In wet peat areas or peat in peat swamps it is impossible to dry. Therefore, if sago burns in wet peat areas, only the bark and some of the leaves are burned. Only when there is a great fire do one or two trees burn.

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